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| Columns |

Miami's Best Pizza? Time for a Name Change.

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Miami's Best Pizza, a 40-year mainstay on South Dixie Highway near University of Miami, is always packed. There're children with noses smudged up against a glass partition watching cooks spin dough in the air, children playing on video game machines that line the walls, children huddled by their parents on the picnic-style benches that comprise the dining area. And sprinkled around are college kids and mom-types waiting for take-out orders beneath giant faux-brick arches.

Naturally, one would expect such a jam-packed place with a name like "Miami's Best Pizza" to serve life-changing slices of heaven. Does this old school neighborhood joint match these expectations?

When I first look at the large menu posted on the wall, I'm put off by

the price--$3.25 for a single slice? In New York City, one of the most

expensive places on Earth, a plain cheese slice at the most frou-frou spot rarely exceeds $2.50. But after the lady at the counter hands me

my order, I understand the price. The slices here are

huge. As in, they take up an entire circular aluminum tray that could

easily fit a whole medium-size pie.

I'm more a fan of slices than pies simply because I love a cracker-crispy

crust, an effect achieved only after slices are thrown in the oven a

second time for re-heating. In this case, bigger isn't better.

My slice from Miami's Best Pizza is a droopy, sad-looking thing. The top

of the crust is near-burnt, the edges are toasted to perfection, and

the middle deflates into such an intense sogginess that half the cheese

slides off when I pick it up. It makes sense--you can't get an even toast

on a pizza portion the size of an infant. I give up trying to balance

the massive wobbly mass towards my face, and eat with knife and fork. It

makes for a much more pleasurable experience.

Luckily, the taste of ingredients balances out terrible

consistency. Sauce is sweeter than most, and generously layered. Cheese

is bubbly, finely grated, and evenly melted. It has that salty, sharp,

non-artificial kick that makes or breaks a pizza slice.

So...it's good. But the best you can get in the entire city? Definitely

not. I understand the appeal--it's a friendly space with a broken-in feel

that turns kitschy retro picnic tables into gathering places. But I

would suggest a name change. Something like "Miami's

Will-Do-If-I-Don't-Feel-Like-Driving-Far Pizza" would be more fitting.

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